Police will be able to keep a closer watch on convicted sex offenders through new court orders restricting their movements and behavior after release, according to senior officers.
While Cayman has yet to implement legislation for a public sexual offenders register, officers believe new Sexual Harm Prevention Orders will help them monitor serious offenders that pose a potential threat to the community.
The first such order was imposed Friday on Ronnie Rodney Ebanks, who was also jailed for six years for a serious sexual assault.
Detectives in charge of investigating sex crimes say they will seek similar orders in future cases, including the upcoming sentencing of Errington Webster, the erstwhile political candidate who groomed and sexually abused a teenage girl.
The orders, which must be approved by a judge, can be tailored to an offender’s particular pattern of behavior.
Someone caught filming child abuse, for example, could be banned from owning a cellphone; someone caught accessing child pornography could be banned from using the internet. The orders would typically be imposed at a sentencing hearing and come into effect on release from prison, but can be imposed on an interim basis before trial.
Inspector Kevin Ashworth, of the Multi-Agency Child Safeguarding Hub, said, “It is bespoke to the offender. You look at what they have done and make it relevant to the behavior patterns.”
In Mr. Ebanks’s case, this was his third conviction for a serious sexual assault and all three cases involved him breaking into the victim’s property at night while she was asleep.
Now, if he is caught loitering outside a condo, resort or residential premises, once he is released, he can be brought back before the courts.
“If he is in the wrong place at the wrong time, he can now be arrested,” said Detective Superintendent Peter Lansdown.
“Previously, all we could do would be to warn him and ask him to leave. We would effectively have to wait for another offense to be committed before we could act.”
Breach of a Sexual Harm Prevention Order can be prosecuted as an offense in its own right and carries a maximum penalty of four years in prison.
Though there are no current plans to enlist public support in monitoring those conditions through a published sex offenders register, Mr. Lansdown said the names of those on Sexual Harm Prevention Orders would be publicly available because they would typically be part of sentencing orders issued in open court.
“There is open source public dissemination of these orders,” he said, “but there is no legislation to have a published list of sex offenders.
“There are pros and cons to that approach [implementing a sex offender register]. In the U.K. they haven’t gone down that route because of possible vigilantism.”
He said the names of those on Sexual Harm Prevention Orders would be disseminated to all police officers.
In the future, dedicated officers may be required to manage and monitor offenders on such orders.
Inspector Ashworth said the granting of the first such order was a “positive step” for the community and law enforcement.
He said Mr. Ebanks had re-offended right after coming out of prison on two previous occasions and the restrictions of the order would make it more difficult for him to do so this time.
“He has never been rehabilitated properly. Recidivism is in his bones,” he said. “This is a protective measure that gives the police and the courts power to bring him back before the courts.”
He said such orders, tied to specific conditions, were valuable because they allow police to act before another crime is committed. “The main thing they are is a preventative measure.”
He said the orders were part of a collaborative approach between police, prosecutors, social services and the Department of Community Rehabilitation, among others.